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November 26, 2013

Off the radar players shine at Jared Cook Classic

THE LIST: Class of 2014 Rivals150

SUWANEE, Ga. -- The Jared Cook Classic, held at North Gwinnett High School, continues to get bigger and better every year. This year's field is one of the best in the five year history of the event and led to some great action on Monday afternoon. Among the first day standouts were UConn commit Rakim Lubin, sophomore D'Marcus Simonds, Ohio signee Kendall Crute and many more.

Lubin a load to handle

Buford power forward Rakim Lubin transferred into the Georgia school from Gadsden City, Alabama earlier this year and coach Alan Whitehart sure is glad to have him. Just about every offensive set the Wolves run seems to end up in the hands of the 6'6, 250-pound prospect. After a slow start, Lubin hit his stride in the second quarter and played a huge role in Buford's 77-70 win over a talented Peachtree Ridge team. Lubin finished the night with 24 points, many of which came from the free throw line, and 13 rebounds.

Lubin took an official visit to Connecticut back in September and committed to the school while on campus. However, he did not sign a letter of intent to play for Kevin Ollie during the early signing period. He remains committed, but this will be one to watch as the late signing period comes around.

Simonds steals the show

The sophomore class in Georgia appears to be really strong, especially in the backcourt. Kobi Simmons and Tyree Crump both emerged as high major prospects during travel season and for good reason, but Buford wing D'Marcus Simonds needs to start being mentioned in the same conversation as those two prospects after his 30 point performance on Monday night.

At about 6-foot-4 and 180 pounds, Simonds can score the ball at all three levels. A big time athlete, Simonds made contested shot after contested shot and had his fair share finishes at the rim. Simonds got loose in the open court with less than 5 seconds left in the game and threw down an emphatic windmill jam to put an exclamation point on his breakout performance. Look for him to see his recruitment take off over the next and become one of the most highly regarded players in the Peach State.

Crute's comeback complete

Ohio signee Kendall Crute went through a pretty serious situation when he had to have a tumor removed from his lung. Watching him Monday, you would have never known it as he finished the game with 27 points and led his North Cobb Christian team to a blow-out victory over Sequoyah.

A 6-foot-3 combo guard, Crute had several high major schools tracking him over the past few years, but none ever pulled the trigger with a scholarship offer. Several mid-majors extended offers to Crute, but it was Ohio head coach Jim Christian that came in late and made a strong impression. Crute visited Ohio in October and committed shortly after.

If Monday's performance is any indication, Ohio is getting a good one from Georgia. Long known for his ability to score in a variety of ways, Crute did nothing to change that reputation. He went five of eight from three point range on the day, had a couple pull-up jumpers and also some impressive drives to the rim.

More Monday notables

It is easy to see why Mercer has won so many games under Bob Hoffman when you see them sign kids like North Cobb Christian forward Stephon Jelks. In the first half, there weren't many rebounds that didn't find his hands as he had 10 at the half before finishing with 13 for the game. It isn't just rebounding that makes the 6-foot05 forward so impressive, he is also capable three point shooter and he's tough as nails trying to finish in the paint.

Bryant University stole one late in the early signing period. Hunter Ware, younger brother of former Georgia point guard Dustin Ware, visited the school last weekend and signed shortly after returning. The 6-foot-1 lead guard had several mid major offers and some high major attention after a strong spring travel season, but his stock took a hit after a subpar July playing out of position. He is off to a strong start to his senior year, finishing Monday's win with 7 assists along with 7 points.

Virginia bound Isaiah Wilkins draws the most attention for Greater Atlanta Christian, and rightfully so. He had a great first half before being saddled with foul trouble. But it was his teammate, unsigned senior guard Troy Morrison, that stole the show for the Spartans. A six-foot tall floor general, Morrison dished out 7 assists to go along with his 20 points. On the other end, he gave opposing guards problems and finished with several steals.

It wasn't the best of days for Alabama signee Devin Mitchell as Greater Atlanta Christian locked in on him and made him work for every shot. He did, however, show why Anthony Grant worked so hard to get him. The Crimson Tide need shooters and that's what Mitchell does best. Mitchell connected on three of his seven 3-point attempts, one of them from at least 25 feet.

Another unsigned senior guard, North Gwinnett's Ahmad Caver, starred in the final game of the night. Finishing the night with 27 points, it seemed as if Caver couldn't be stopped by a tough, athletic Tucker team. Low majors and mid majors have inquired about the athletic 6'0 combo guard as a 2014 prospect, but look for him to go to a prep school next year to boost his stock and add more physical strength.

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